2021 Volume 48

Issue 01 -- Spring 2021

Theological and Philosophical Perspectives on the Work of Wendell Berry

Editorial Introduction: pp. 3–5

Scott H. Moore

Baylor University

Waco TX 76706

 

Earthy Religion and Church Religion: Liberty Hyde Bailey, Wendell Berry, and the Shifting Landscape of Belief: pp. 5–14

Jeffrey Bilbro

Jackson, MI 49203

Many proto-ecological writers in nineteenth-century America drew creatively on Christian language to describe the spiritual dimension of human relations with the rest of creation. While figures such as Henry Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and John Muir were deeply formed by Christian scriptures and liturgy, they articulated their experience of nature in ways that contrasted with the indoor, culturally-dominate Christianity of their era. The result was a kind of post-Christian or neo-pagan earthy religion that stood in contradistinction to church religion. But a hundred years later, many of the inheritors of this tradition of earthy religion found themselves closer to the institutional church. The best way of understanding this shift, I think, is that the enemies changed. In the nineteenth century, romantics sought to defend earthy religion from the strictures of a culturally dominant yet ossified church. By the late twentieth century, lovers of the holy earth saw industrial, materialistic economic forces as the chief enemy and the institutional church as a potential ally. Liberty Hyde Bailey serves as a paradigmatic transitional figure, and Wendell Berry offers one instance of a contemporary author who came to see the church as a necessary—if sometimes exasperating—ally.

 

Practical Wisdom and the Literary Imagination: Wendell Berry, C. S. Lewis, and the Promise and Limits of Social Theory: pp. 15–29

Joshua P. Hochschild

Mount St. Mary’s University

Emmitsburg MD 21727

 

Wendell Berry’s “Difficult Hope”: pp. 31–38

Jenny Howell

Truett Theological Seminary

Waco TX 76712

This essay draws attention to Wendell Berry’s thoughts on hope. Despite his severe critiques and warnings regarding our ecological, cultural and economic realities, Berry seems to continue to hope for a way forward. But how do we hope? How do we hope well? Berry’s answer to the question challenges our common assumptions regarding the relationship between hope and despair. Through a reading of selected essays and a poem, we discover that Berry frames hope as a skill: a technical and challenging skill that entails both virtue and discipline.

                                 

An Earthly Heaven: The Eschatology of Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow: pp. 39–56

Andrew Ronnevik

Baylor University

Waco TX 76712

This essay explores the rich eschatological dimensions of Wendell Berry’s novel Jayber Crow. First, at a basic level, I show that Berry has an eschatology and that it plays a vital role for him. Second, and more substantially, I show how Berry engages and develops his eschatology, which is both critical and constructive, through a river, a church, a community, and a personal relationship. Portraying these various “places,” Berry renders harsh judgment on eschatologies that are other-worldly, cut off from past and present, or salvifically exclusive. At the same time, Berry’s Jayber ultimately has a robust view of Heaven as present in this world, yoked to the past and present, and broad in scope. Third, I show how Berry’s eschatology is generally resonant with “orthodox” Christian imagination, even if it minimizes apocalyptic rupture and is not openly christological. It is a compelling and faithful eschatology of continuity and fulfillment, of place and person, of memory and hope, of grace and forgiveness, of all creation: an earthly Heaven.

 

Wendell Berry and Business Ethics: pp. 57–71

Roger Ward

Georgetown College

Georgetown KY 40324

How might Wendell Berry be useful in teaching business ethics? Roger Ward considers the challenge of Berry’s commitments to community and thrift as a source for encouragement or support for the status quo of American capitalism. But Berry does explore the ideal of economy and practical consequences of our systems of belief and action. Drawing from the essays “Two Economies” and “Christianity and the Survival of Creation,” Ward explores the surprisingly fruitful connection between Berry’s critique of economy and teaching business ethics to students at Georgetown College.

 

Affection and Emotivism in Wendell Berry and Alasdair MacIntyre: pp. 73–81

Scott H. Moore

Baylor University

Waco TX 76706

This essay examines Wendell Berry’s appeal to affection in light of Alasdair MacIntyre’s understanding of emotivism as one of the sources of moral fragmentation in the modern world. Of particular interest is Berry’s repeated use of E.M. Forster’s quotation, “it all turns on affection.” Through an examination of Berry’s fiction and nonfiction, the essay ultimately concludes that Berry’s appeal to affection does not constitute an instance of MacIntyre’s emotivism. Berry’s notion of affection is best understood as what Mary Wollstonecraft called “virtuous satisfaction.”

 

Issue 02 -- Summer 2021

“Glory!”: A Baptist Story: Essays in honor of Helen Lee Turner

 

Editorial Introduction: pp. 93–96

Karen V. Guth

College of the Holy Cross

Worcester, MA 01610

           

Section I: The Rev. Dr. Helen Lee Turner: pp. 97–110

Claude N. Stulting, Jr.

Furman University

Greenville SC 29613

The Rev. Dr. Helen Lee Turner has had an extraordinary career both as a Professor of Religion at Furman University and also as an ordained Southern Baptist minister. These, for her, are not discreet vocations but intimately connected, synthesizing both the prophetic and priestly roles., roles that challenge and sustain. As a scholar of American religious history, Dr. Turner’s academic interests are wide-ranging, including Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Native American religions, and religion and medicine. But the singular Baptist idea of the priesthood of the believer has always been personally, pastorally, and academically important. The priesthood of the believer, as Dr. Turner understands it, creates space for a community in which individuals serve one another and encourage one another to grow personally and spiritually through mutual accountability. These two ideas, community and the priesthood of the believer, are themes that emerge again and again throughout Helen Lee’s life.

 

Teacher, Mentor, Colleague, Minister, Friend: A Tribute to Helen Lee Turner: pp. 110–120

Charles A. Kimball

University of Oklahoma

Norman OK 73019

Helen Lee Turner has served on the faculty of the Religion Department at Furman University for more than 35 years. A beloved teacher and mentor to thousands of students, she has also been a supportive and wise colleague not only for Furman faculty members but also for many other Baptist professors and Christian clergy throughout North America. This essay highlights some of her most notable contributions as a gifted teacher and longstanding leader in ecumenical and interfaith institutions. Particular attention is focused on Professor Turner’s creative framework for introducing students to the study of religion, the critical study of the Bible, and her celebrated courses on Judaism and Native American religions. Helen Lee Turner’s teaching ministry extends well beyond the university setting as her expertise in American religious history converges in several distinctive ways with her commitments as an ordained Baptist minister. Her ministry with children at First Baptist Church, a prominent church in Greenville, SC, provides a valuable and practical model for lay leaders and clergy seeking to prepare children for their impending transition into congregational worship. Her decades long leadership among a unique South Carolina group of professors and clergy called the Theologues illustrates the multiple benefits derived by nurturing constructive relationships between professors, clergy, congregations, and colleges in upstate South Carolina. Wider regional and national leadership roles with The Ecumenical Institute and the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, respectively, underscore Helen Lee Turner’s faithful commitments as an educator devoted to ministries of reconciliation and cooperation.

 

Section II: Perspectives in the Study of Christianity: Furman Baptists and Beyond Heretical Orthodoxy and Liberal Conservativism: Biblical Interpretation Past and Future in the Inaugural Address of Crawford Howell Toy: pp. 121–33

Jeffrey S. Rogers

Gardner-Webb University

Boiling Springs NC 28017

Variously described as a “heretic,” a “liberal conservative,” and “generally orthodox,” Crawford Howell Toy is best known in the annals of American biblical scholarship as an influential proponent of historical criticism of the Old Testament, Semitics, and the history of religions at Harvard University. In 1869, a little more than a decade before his arrival in Cambridge, Toy delivered an inaugural address on his appointment as Professor of Old Testament Interpretation in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Greenville, SC. In this address he laid out an approach to the study of the Bible that was predicated on Francis Bacon’s philosophy of science, pursued Johann August Ernesti’s rationalist hermeneutic, and promoted the natural sciences as partners in the “inductive science” of Exegetics, as he called it, while at the same time “taking for granted” the traditional affirmation of the infallibility of Scripture on matters of faith. Toy framed his address by directing his remarks to Baptists, and he charged the “Church universal” with the custody of interpretation of the Bible. However, his appropriation of Bacon, Ernesti, and the natural sciences presaged a future for biblical studies more aligned with the liberal arts than with theology and more at home in “religious studies” than in churches and seminaries. His address included other harbingers of change to come: the eventual dismantling of the so-called “historical-critical hegemony” that he helped forge and the persistence and power of strategies of biblical interpretation that Toy dismissed as temporary hermeneutical movements dependent on passion and circumstances. From the vantage point of a century and a half later, his address is a fascinating window on the past and future of American biblical studies.

 

Protestant Clergy and Christian Nationalism: pp. 135–47

James L. Guth

Furman University

Greenville SC 29613

In recent years there has been much journalistic and scholarly attention paid to the political phenomenon of “Christian nationalism.” Many observers see this movement as an important contributor to Donald Trump’s capture of the Republican Party in 2016 and to his enduring hold on many GOP leaders, activists and voters. Despite all the public scrutiny, however, there has been very little systematic attention paid to the role that clergy play in advocating or opposing the ideas of this purportedly religious movement. This article uses data from a 2016 national survey of clergy in ten Protestant denominations to assess the extent and location of Christian nationalist sentiments among grass-roots religious leaders. We find that these ideas are most pervasive within conservative Protestant denominations, especially evangelical churches such as the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and Assemblies of God (AOG), but are strongly opposed by most clergy in liberal mainline denominations, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). We also argue that Christian nationalism is neither a distinct ideology or particularly new, but is rather a contemporary manifestation of some historic beliefs long prevalent among American Protestants.

 

Section III: Perspectives in the Study of Religion Rewriting the Bible: Culture, Power, and the Theology of Bible Translation: pp. 149–62

Bryan Bibb

Furman University

Greenville SC 29613

This essay explores two foundational premises, makes one central claim, and draws out the theological implications of that claim. The foundational assumptions are that “Bible translation is a cultural project,” and that “Bible translation is always in service to particular social, political, and religious needs, purposes, and interests.” After exploring these two assumptions, the essay’s thesis is that Bible translation is the rewriting of the Bible, performed by and in service to ‘gatekeepers’ and ‘ambassadors,’ a cultural project evident in the shifting role of gender in the politics of Bible translation and publishing. If it is true that Bible translation, as an embedded and embodied cultural practice, reflects and participates in the political and religious fragmentation of our world, then the “Bible” will continue to fragment and destabilize along with our culture. Therefore, and as a tentative contribution to the theology of bible translation, the essay argues that scholars and lay-readers must be more critical, more honest, and more hospitable in our practice of and engagement with “the Bible.”

                                 

Why Health Care Needs Religion and Vice Versa: Religion Education and Theological Formation for Pre-Health Undergraduates: pp. 163–75

Warren Kinghorn

Duke University Medical Center, Duke Divinity School

Durham NC 27708

Although the share of bachelor’s degrees awarded in religion and religious studies has declined over the past decade, interest among U. S. undergraduates in pursuing study in the health professions has remained high. Writing from the perspective of a physician and theological ethicist who is active in the formation of health care practitioners, I argue that the undergraduate study of religion offers four dimensions of benefit to pre-health undergraduates. First, the study of religion confers cultural awareness, particularly regarding diverse religious traditions, that is essential for good patient care in the pluralistic world of health care. Second, the study of religion promotes structural competency as students gain critical analytic tools that they can then apply to their work in health care. Third, students of religion develop interpretive capacity as they develop nuanced understanding of the importance of religion for the formation of modern health care institutions and practices, and as they learn to interpret modern health care within the context of specific religious traditions. Finally, some students of religion may cultivate vocational synergy between their own religious faith and practice and their health care work—a powerful resource against clinician burnout. These essential skills and habits will benefit future clinicians and their patients, and may well render them more competitive applicants for graduate health professions training programs. Undergraduate programs of study in religion that attend to the formation of pre-health students will not only benefit these future clinicians but will also benefit from the intellectual energy, moral commitments, and tangible resources that they bring.

 

Section IV: Perspectives in “Other” Traditions Looking at American Politics Through the Prism of Native American Culture and Experience: pp. 177–87

C. Danielle Vinson

Furman University

Greenville SC 29613

This essay explores how Native American political culture and experiences can provide a new perspective on American politics. Native American culture is more communitarian or relational than American political culture, which focuses on individualism and liberty. Through an examination of the ways some Native American tribes pursue restorative justice and practice civil disagreement, we can see how different political cultures influence political processes. The powerful contrast between Native American processes that work to preserve relationships between individuals and the community and the more individualistic outcomes in American politics reminds us that there are alternatives to the zero sum politics that often emanate from American politics. In addition, Native American experience in the U.S. reveals the shortcomings of American government. The failure of the U.S. government to live up to treaty obligations, the stark reality of poverty, the challenges of American economics in the context of reservations and sustaining Native American culture, and the complex, often conflicting, concept of identity are everyday life for Native Americans. But, unlike many of the challenges we confront in the U.S., those of Native Americans are outside of the familiar and polarizing ideological framework that dominates American politics, allowing us to see our problems more clearly and think more creatively about solutions. The essay considers how incorporating discussion of Native American culture and experience in American Government courses can help us see American politics in a new light and potentially encourage more critical and reflective thinking about American government.

 

The Aladura Divine Worship: The Drama of Ritual Struggle:pp. 189–202

Samuel I. Britt

Furman University

Greenville SC 29613

The author discusses the Sunday Divine Worship in the Aladura Churches of Liberia in terms of “Ritual Struggle,” a concept which denotes the agonistic dimension of Aladura theology and practice. The Aladura churches are the most widespread indigenous churches in West Africa and have had success among diaspora communities in England and USA. The author draws from fieldwork among Aladura churches in both Liberia and Washington DC. He gives special attention to the steps of Divine Worship called Adoration Prayer, Shouts, and the final Laugh. These steps alert us to the dramatic character of Divine Worship as participants battle the agents of negative powers, such as territorial spirits and witchcraft. Contemporary liturgists, such as Nathan Mitchell, have drawn out the communal character of worship in “meeting the Other.” In Aladura worship, though, the Other can be an opponent, one “who prays against you,” and the sense of wholeness and community can be forestalled. Rather than undermine the effectiveness of the liturgy, however, the tension can paradoxically enhance its power. During the Adoration Prayer the ministers consecrate the sanctuary space and petition the Holy Spirit to enter their midst, which becomes vibrantly actualized in Shouts, a phase of song, dance, and spirit inspired visions, commissions, and ritual acts. As ritual struggle, these phases in the service augur the problem of temptation that members constantly face, but also signals an eschatological hope. The Divine Worship will include the final Laugh, a benedictive gesture that suggests the overtures of Satan have been subdued, at least for the time being. The service’s conclusion represents also a threshold for new rites to be continued in coming days and weeks. Ritual struggle never finishes. In the Aladura church, it resonates throughout daily practice, reminding us the journey towards redemption always continues.

Issue 03 -- Fall 2021

Open Issue

 

A Sartorial Inversion: Clothing in Mark and the Flight of the Naked Youth: pp. 205–219–66

EJ Davila

Independent Scholar

Gatesville TX 76528

This article is a narrative-critical interpretation of the flight of the naked youth (Mark 14:51–52) which examines Mark’s characteristic use of clothing with particular interest in the literary relationship between the young man’s abandoned garment (σινδών) and Jesus’ burial shroud (σινδών). After examining Mark’s use of clothing and situating 14:51–52 within a web of relevant literary and lexical interrelationships, this article argues that Mark intentionally depicts the fleeing νεανίσκος as a characterization of the disciples’ refusal of Jesus’ passion, imaged by their refusal to bear Jesus’ figural burial shroud.

  

Funerary Anchors of Hope and Hebrews: A Reappraisal of the Origins of the Anchor Iconography in the Catacombs of Rome: pp. 221–43

Jason A. Whitlark

Baylor University

Waco TX 76706

Among early Christian iconography, the anchor appears in catacombs of Rome from the end of the second century through the third century. Many observers of this phenomenon have assumed a connection between the use of anchors as a Christian symbol in the Roman catacombs and Heb 6:18–20a. There has, however, been some recent alternative proposals. This article attempts to place on firmer footing the influence Hebrews had on funerary anchors in Rome. Keywords: Hebrews, anchors, hope, catacombs, Rome

 

Jesus’s Ongoing Ministry in 1 John: Priestly Purification and Intercession in 1 John 1:5–2:2: pp. 245–57

Alicia D. Myers

Campbell University Divinity School

Buies Creek, NC 27506

Most scholars suggest the enigmatic opponents behind 1 John devalue Jesus’s incarnation, especially the salvific nature of his death. Yet, 1 John also emphasizes Jesus’s ongoing work by using present tense verbs to describe his cleansing blood (καθαρίζει), his being a ἱλασμός, and acting as παράκλητος in 1:5–2:2. In this article, I will explore these images, noting how 1:5–2:2 uses Levitical understandings to characterize Jesus as resurrected and ascended priest, who is both atonement and intercessor for believers. The debate over Jesus’s corporeality reflected in 1 John, therefore, stretches beyond disputes about his death, to include those about his resurrection and ascension as well.

Keywords: 1 John, atonement, blood, Leviticus, priest, resurrection, sacrifice

 

When Freedom is Shackled and Chained: The Holy Spirit and the Irruptions of our Times: pp. 259–68

Amy Chilton

Wingate University

Wingate NC 28174

Jon Sobrino, SJ, responded to the irruptions of El Salvador’s poor by arguing that the poor and Jesus of Galilee isomorphically point to one another: there is a correlation of likeness between the two. The irruptions of our day likewise demand prophetic theological responses, responses that can be aided by Sobrino’s concept of isomorphism. This paper argues that if we shift the center of the isomorphism from the correlation of christological likeness to that of the Holy Spirit in triune relationality, Sobrino’s concept of isomorphism might function as a prophetic tool in our contexts while avoiding charges of divinizing and essentializing poverty and oppression.

 

Cheap Grace, American Style: Confession, Racism, and the “Gentler” Medicine of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: pp. 268–82

Barry Harvey

Baylor University

Waco TX 76706

In The Consolation of Philosophy, “gentler medicines” were needed to cure Boethius’ amnesia before “harsher remedies” could be used. In their cruelty and indifference to the suffering of their African-American neighbors, white Christians have also forgotten what Christ calls them to be. A similar course of treatment for the church begins with the wisdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who attributes its amnesia to the neglect of the struggle for the truth of their confession. The result is a distinctively American form of cheap grace. I conclude with a look at the “harsher remedy” prescribed by Jeremiah Wright.

 

Elephants in the Room: The Francis Wayland, Richard Fuller Correspondence on Slavery as a Case Study in Nineteenth-Century Baptist Hermeneutics: pp. 283–98

Keith Harper

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Wake Forest NC 27587

Between late 1844 and early 1845, Francis Wayland and Richard Fuller, two prominent Baptist ministers, debated the legitimacy of chattel slavery in a series of letters that appeared in the Christian Reflector, a Baptist newspaper in Boston, Massachusetts. Wayland opposed the institution; Fuller supported it. A careful reading of these letters indicates that while both agreed on many theological tenets, including a high view of Scripture, they did not share a common hermeneutic. Yet, both shared a missionary ethos that amounted to a sort of surrogate theology to itself. Arguably, many contemporary Baptists still do.

 

 

Reflections on Scripture and Tradition Towards a Constructive, Baptistic Grammar for Hell Language: pp. 299–327

Spencer Miles Boersma

Acadia Divinity School

Wolfville NS, Canada B4P 2R6

The doctrine of hell and the question of universal salvation have been particularly controversial in recent Baptist theology. Proponents of universalism, annihilationism and eternal conscious torment are adamant that Scripture yields one uniform position and that Christian tradition is straightforward. However, both yield significant challenges. For instance, in the recent histories of universalism written by Michael McClymond, who sees universalism as illegitimate, and Ilaria Ramelli, who asserts the viability of universalism, ambiguities in the evidence plague their interpretations regarding the diversity of the early church, the origins of universalism in either Gnosticism or the Bible, the development of universalism and its popularity at the Council of Nicaea, the questionable circumstances of Origen’s anathematization at the Council of Constantinople at 553, etc. What is “orthodox” is simply not clear. Those that seek to just “get back to the Bible” are further obstructed by ambiguities within the biblical text. The Bible seems to display polyvalent passages where the symbolism of fire appears as refining, destroying, as well as tormenting. These multilayered images form strands of logic that appear in Scripture in diverse ways. Often scholars must downplay certain passages that do not fit into their position, filtering Scripture through one totalized metaphysic. However, if the Bible is polyphonic, the question is, how do these diverse voices come together without outright contradiction or suppression? Understanding the contextual nature of hell rhetoric provides valuable insight into their intelligibility. If all these diverse layers can be affirmed in Scripture, the theologian must construct a grammar for the constructive conditions of contemporary usage for this language, and in particular, its employment in Baptist communities, which do not see tradition as infallible and tend to have a more contextual and practical approach to doctrine. In the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., one finds an example of hell preaching that admits its non-literal character but nevertheless is preached realistically and powerfully.

 

 

Are Christians Captivated by Culture or Christ?: pp. 329–38

Gerald L. Borchert

Former Dean and Professor of New Testament, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary; Emeritus Professor and Thesis Director, The Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies

Since the time of Jesus, Paul and the early believers, Christians have been faced with the tension of being citizens of two kingdoms: the earthly cultural context of this world and the realm of Christ with its divine perspectives. Recognizing the reality of both demonic and more authentic patterns within our cultural contexts, this paper advocates and illustrates being captured by Christ and seeking to live consistently with the divine perspective in varied cultural contexts as the task of Christian living.

 

 

Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology: A Review Symposium: pp. 339–202

Andrew B. Gardner, Hartford Seminary, Hartford CT 06105

Elise M. Edwards, Baylor University, Waco TX 76798

Jennifer Garcia Bashaw, Campbell University, Buies Creek NC 28174

Amy L. Chilton, Wingate University, Wingate NC 28174

Steven R. Harmon, Gardner-Webb University, Boiling Springs NC 28017

 

Issue 04 -- Winter 2021

African American Interpretations of Scripture

 

Editorial Introduction: pp. 355–57

Stephen Breck Reid

Truett Seminary

Waco TX 76706

 

African “Freedom” in America: pp. 359–75

Boykin Sanders

Virginia Union University

Richmond VA 23220

 

Racializing Cain, Demonizing Blackness, & Legalizing Discrimination: Proposal for Reception of Cain and America’s Racial Caste System: pp. 377–99

Joel B. Kemp

Candler School of Theology, Emory University

Atlanta GA 30322

The racialization of Cain and his mark contributed to the demonization of Black persons and the construction of what I call the “3Ds of Blackness” – i.e., a belief that Blackness is akin to dangerousness, deviance, and depravity (“3Ds”). The reception of this demonization and 3Ds within American legal contexts further entrenched these ideas about members of the African diaspora in American society. Although the biblical and theological roots of the 3Ds may have faded, their effects are still shaping encounters between Black American persons and law enforcement officials. As evidence for this continuing impact, I look at two encounters – Rodney King and Michael Brown – in which the officers referred to both men with language I contend is connected to the construction of the 3Ds and their reception in American legal contexts. Key Words: Cain, African American, law, reception history, race, dangerous, deviant, depraved, 3Ds

 

Finding Her Voice: #sayhername and Psalm 22 as Trauma Response: pp. 401–14

Stephen Breck Reid

Truett Seminary

Waco TX 76706

The writer wants readers of the essay and Psalm 22 to be able to hear the voice of Breonna Taylor and Sarah Bland as speaker of Psalm 22. The Pontifical Biblical Commission helpfully challenged readers of the Bible in the Church to actualizational (from the ancient historical context to the contemporary context) and enculturation (from the ancient cultural ethos to the culture of the interpreter). What the Pontifical Biblical did not address the challenge of whiteness in interpretation. The first task of this essay clears the debris of whiteness. The positivism of whiteness has two dominant strategies of reading. One mines the text for timeless and colorblind ideas. A second blind alley renders the text as a mirror the researchers’ social location and preferences. The phenomenological approach of Ricoeur and Luc Marion. The text is active, an icon that transform. The second task is the rehearsal of the strategies to recover the women characters and the voice of female in non-gendered texts. The third task reviews the new awareness of trauma and lament. The fourth section is a short exegetical review of Psalm 22. Key words: Psalm 22, #SayHerName, trauma, African American Biblical Interpretation

 

Righteous Sinners and Free Slaves: Use of Irony in the Parable of the Unjust Stewards and Slave Resistance in the Antebellum South: pp. 415–27

Marcus Jerkins

Howard University School of Divinity

Washington DC 20008

The Parable of the Unjust Steward, as it has been popularly called, is one of the most difficult parables to interpret in the Jesus tradition. Scholars have searched relentlessly offering varying ways to approach the meaning and significance of the parable in the teachings of Jesus. One of the biggest questions concerns who the “sons of light” are. In the parable, Jesus praises these children of the light while arguing that the “children of this age” are somehow wiser than they. How could Jesus, a consummate promoter of righteousness, and critic of the practices of this age (Luke 16:15) change course in this parable? Why would Jesus praise people in this age when he is an advocate of the ways of the age to come? Furthermore, trouble with clear interpretations of this parable also problematizes analogical connections that may stem from possible readings. In this paper, I argue that Jesus’s praise of the “children of this age” makes sense if the “sons of light” attribution is used ironically. Second, this interpretation provides a dialogue with oppressed people who utilize ironic speech to condemn their oppressors. This interpretation is used as a foundation to engage the practices of enslaved African Americans who also criticized pretentious slave owners who considered themselves righteous because of their supposed superior position in the world.

 

An Essene Filled with the Holy Spirit? Revisiting the Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) Hypothesis of John the Baptist Considering an Afro-Christian Pneumatological Hermeneutic: pp. 429–37

Jamal-Dominique Hopkins

Dickerson-Green Theological Seminary, Allen University

Columbia, SC 29204

Discussion concerning the Qumran-Essene identity of John the Baptist has been put forth by Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship in the past. This was the case in consideration of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls which revealed numerous similarities and significant differences. In examining the correlations, never has the New Testament gospel Luke 1:13-15 and 41 been taken into consideration. This article explores the correlations considering a pneumatologically reading of John’s experience with the Holy Spirit in Luke 1:41. Revealed in this examination is John the Baptist’s pneumatological experience and his archetypal nature regarding the pneumatological experience of early African American Baptist-Holiness figures. Key Words: Qumran, Essenes, Dead Sea Scrolls, John the Baptist, Luke 1:41, Pneumatological, Holy Spirit, Holiness-Baptist, Sanctification, Disfellowship, Afro-Christian, African American, Charles Harrison Mason, Azusa Street Revival, Pietism, Praxis, Ideology, Hermeneutics

 

“There’s Time Enough, but None to Spare”: Charles Chesnutt’s Marrow of Tradition, the Genesis Traditions, and the Critique of Racialized Stereotypes: pp. 439–56

Abraham Smith

Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

Dallas TX 75275

This article examines Charles Chesnutt’s demystification of racialized stereotypes in his post-Reconstruction novel, The Marrow of Tradition. Thus, the article argues that Chesnutt’s novel, a work of realist historiography, exposed and critiqued the ideological scaffolding that supported the catastrophic “riot” or massacre of black people in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898. Accordingly, on the one hand, Chesnutt’s novel chiefly exposed the two most prominent racialized stereotypes in post-Reconstruction literature: the contented slave and the brute Negro stereotypes. Such stereotypes, which were already buttressed by a crude colonial imaginary and the distorted logic of pseudo-scientific and theological arguments, were used to justify the denial of citizenship rights to blacks and to reconfigure the full sweep of U.S. history from the antebellum days to the post-Reconstruction era in support of white domination. On the other hand, Chesnutt’s novel undercut the grounding of the stereotypes by problematizing the vested interests of pseudo-scientific arguments and by repurposing the Bible’s Genesis traditions to deconstruct the logic of “race” altogether.

Review of Member Publications: pp. 457–66